Antiepileptic drug use in Italian children over a decade
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The aim of the study was to evaluate prescription profiles of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) and to assess hospitalizations and specialist visits in pediatric patients with epilepsy.
The data sources were administrative health databases of Italy’s Lombardy Region, which collect prescriptions for drugs, diagnostic tests, specialist visits, and hospital discharge forms. All patients aged 0–16 years with at least seven AED (group N03A of the International Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification) prescriptions over two consecutive years between 2003 and 2010 were identified and classified as prevalent or incident cases (no prescriptions in two previous years). The first prescription to incident cases was analyzed. For each incident case, drug prescriptions, specialist visits, diagnostic tests, and hospitalizations in the 24 months following the first (index) prescription were monitored.
A total of 6527 incident cases (5.4/10,000 person-years, 95% CI 5.4–5.5) were identified. Valproic acid and carbamazepine were the most prescribed drugs (65.9 and 15.0%, respectively). The use of newer AEDs increased over time. In the 24-month observation period, 74% of incident cases continued the treatment with the index AED. The percentage of cases who changed therapy was higher in preschoolers (34%) and decreased with age. In all, 21% of incident cases were hospitalized for epilepsy and 86% had a specialist visit in the 24 months after the first AED prescription.
In conclusion, older AEDs, particularly valproic acid, remained the first therapeutic approach to pediatric epilepsy in Italy. For three quarters of cases, the initial AED treatment was likely effective and well tolerated.
KeywordsDrug utilization Prescription Anticonvulsants Epilepsy Pharmacoepidemiology
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